Smith tells what really went down at ESPN.
Sports commenter Michael Smith shared more details about the way he and former SportsCenter co-anchor Jemele Hill were treated by ESPN.
In a recent interview with James Andrew Miller for the Origins podcast, Smith talked about Hill’s suspension following her questioning of whether fans should boycott the Dallas Cowboys online. This came shortly after she called Donald Trump a white supremacist on Twitter. According to Smith, after both incidents, the network attempted to silence them.
“There was a time we weren’t even talking to each other [during broadcasts] anymore. Like no more Michael and Jemele, not less, not here and there,” he said. “No more Michael and Jemele talking. No more of their commentary. It’s just strictly live shots and analysts. That’s what pissed me off so much.”
He continued, “I’m like, so wait a second, you all acknowledge that one of the strengths that we have going for us as a show is Michael and Jemele’s chemistry, but Michael and Jemele don’t f–king talk to each other? How does that make sense?”
Smith also says the change in the show’s format came from ESPN executive Norby Williamson, who was focused on making sure the duo didn’t upset viewers.
“It was very frustrating,” Smith said, “Behind the scenes and on camera…They got what they wanted, which was Michael and Jemele being muted. And that frustrated the shit out of us.”
In January, Hill announced she was leaving her position as SportsCenter 6 anchor to write for ESPN’s The Undefeated, a publication that focuses on black culture.
“I started at ESPN 11 years ago as a columnist, and while I have worn many hats in the time since, my true love always has been writing, reporting and commentary. While I have grown in every way imaginable this last year on the 6 p.m. SportsCenter, deep down, I knew it wasn’t my calling,” she said in a statement.
I have a few things to say … pic.twitter.com/tqEBXLajtp
— Jemele Hill (@jemelehill) January 26, 2018
Ivie is a Nigerian-American, native New Yorker, and journalist covering culture. Usually on-air, on deadline, and on point. @ivieani